Sunday seemed like a normal enough day, except for a few things: 1) I ran half of a half marathon in SF with my sister (2) Northern California finally got a bit of the rain we so desperately need and (3) it was Super Bowl Sunday – a game most Northern Californians only watched for commercials.
It was a super long day for me, starting at 5am to get out to the race. Neither of us was trained up for a half marathon so we knew going in that we would only be doing about half of it. I’m proud to say that we sucked up the weather and ran it. We skipped the finish line but enjoyed the post race food expo!
My family watched the Super Bowl with some good friends and left after the 3rd quarter when it was clear that the Seahawks were going to win.
During the drive home, I checked my Facebook to see what was happening out there and learned some tragic news. A wonderful former colleague of mine, Eric, whom I didn’t know well but respected very deeply, had died of cancer that morning. Eric was quite a guy. French through and through, but so happy in San Francisco with his beautiful French wife. They had 3 children.
Since I learned that news, I’ve been changed. Sadly, my life has been dotted with stories of both close family friends and acquaintances dying of cancer. My mother was an Oncology nurse and my father was a Hospice volunteer. Both nurturers of the sick, my parents taught me a deep sense of empathy. I visited many of their patients. I even brought VHS movies to the hospital to watch with some patients. I was a part of their patients’ lives and grieved each loss along with them.
Sunday night I was so tired I could have slept on a dining room chair. But last night, I couldn’t get Eric out of my mind. I tossed and turned thinking about him, remembering his smiling face. Early this morning, as my husband got up and reached for his glasses, I thought about Eric’s glasses. I thought about the Facebook photos of him I studied last night trying to figure out how the cancer could have possibly chosen him. Eric was different from other people – he smiled all the time, he looked you straight in the eye and his spirit was purely positive. He was so bright, charming and kind. Why? He was my age. His children are my children’s ages…his 3 to my 2. His wife must feel so lost. His children must feel so confused and alone without their daddy.
After having lost my father at 19 (not to cancer), I’ve been in constant fear of losing the people closest to me. Every time I hear the story of someone near me dying or losing their closest loves, I feel cold and terrified. Almost 2 years ago and within 2 weeks of one another, one of my best friends lost her husband in a sailing accident and another friend lost her 4 year old daughter to brain cancer. The world is scary and unpredictable. I can’t control it. I can’t protect my loves from what could come.
I don’t know how to end this post other than to say that I’m sad. I’m sad for Eric and his beautiful family. I’m shocked that he’s gone. It just doesn’t seem possible that the world should lose such a wonderful person so early in life.